Monday, October 4, 2010

The Holiness of Yerushalayim

Rav Nosson Gestetner, shlit”a, recounted, “My ancestor, Rav Yisrael of Shklov, zt”l, was one of the greatest students of the Vilna Gaon. He authored the Pe’as HaShulchan, which discusses the halachos relevant to those living in Eretz Yisrael, and Tiklin Chaditin, on Meseches Shekalim. In addition, he prepared the Biur HaGra on the first half of Shulchan Aruch for publication as well as the Gaon’s commentary on Shekalim.
He moved to Eretz Yisrael and settled in Tzfas with virtually all Jews during that time. Tragically, there was an earthquake that killed many people and wreaked terrible damage. Rav Yisrael was one of the survivors and he wrote a long letter describing the catastrophe to the Chasam Sofer, zt”l.
The Chasam Sofer was so shaken by this calamity that he gathered everyone together and eulogized the many casualties, ‘This was the result of people moving into Tzfas and ignoring holy Yerushalayim! Har HaMoriah is in Yerushalayim. On this mountain, Yitzchak was offered for a sacrifice and Yaakov slept and had the dream of the angels ascending and descending a ladder to heaven. The Beis Hamikdash was there, and we still have the Kosel, from which the Shechinah never moved from the time of the destruction.
“Around one hundred years ago, people began to move to Eretz Yisrael en mass. They reasoned that since the Rashbi is interred in Meron and the Arizal in Tzfas, it was preferable to move to Tzfas or Meron, but this was an error. Even today, Hashem’s name is in Yerushalayim and there is a mitzvah to at ascend for the three festivals even for those who do not live in this most holy city!”

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